Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 -1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.
Emerson was viewed as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.
Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of transcendentalism in his 1836 essay “Nature”.
Following this work, Emerson gave a speech entitled “The American Scholar” in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered to be America’s “intellectual Declaration of Independence.”
Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first and then revised them for print.
His first two collections of essays, Essays: First Series (1841) and Essays: Second Series (1844), represent the core of his thinking.
They include the well-known essays “Self-Reliance”, “The Over-Soul”, “Circles”, “The Poet”, and “Experience.”
Together with “Nature”, these essays made the decade from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s Emerson’s most fertile period.
Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for mankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world.
Emerson’s “nature” was more philosophical than naturalistic: “Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul.” Emerson is one of several figures who “took a more pantheist approach by rejecting views of God as separate from the world.”
He remains among the linchpins of the American romantic movement,and his work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that followed him.
“I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man.”
Bio Reference Attribution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Waldo_Emerson
Photo Attribution Southworth & Hawes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, c.1857
Give All to Love by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Plans, credit and the Muse,—
’T is a brave master;
Let it have scope:
Follow it utterly,
Hope beyond hope:
High and more high
It dives into noon,
With wing unspent,
But it is a god,
Knows its own path
And the outlets of the sky.
It was never for the mean;
It requireth courage stout.
Souls above doubt,
It will reward,—
They shall return
More than they were,
And ever ascending.
Leave all for love;
Yet, hear me, yet,
One word more thy heart behoved,
One pulse more of firm endeavor,—
Keep thee to-day,
Free as an Arab
Of thy beloved.
Cling with life to the maid;
But when the surprise,
First vague shadow of surmise
Flits across her bosom young,
Of a joy apart from thee,
Free be she, fancy-free;
Nor thou detain her vesture’s hem,
Nor the palest rose she flung
From her summer diadem.
Though thou loved her as thyself,
As a self of purer clay,
Though her parting dims the day,
Stealing grace from all alive;
When half-gods go,
The gods arrive.
Poem Attribution Ralph Waldo Emerson, Give All to Love
Source Attribution https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/50464/give-all-to-love
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